Kenya sentences seven Somali pirates to five years

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A Kenyan court has sentenced seven Somalis to five years in jail for acts of piracy, the third batch of pirates to be jailed since foreign anti-piracy patrols began two years ago.

The seven, sentenced on Thursday by a court in Kenya's coastal town of Mombasa, were captured by the Spanish navy in May 2009 while attempting to attack Maltese-flagged merchant ship Anny Petrakis.

"I have concrete proof that you attacked a vessel in the high seas and I order you to serve five years in jail," the presiding magistrate, Timothy Ole Tanchut, said in his ruling.

He added the suspects will be deported to Somalia after serving their terms.

Seven other Somalis were handed the same sentences earlier this month and more than 100 suspects are awaiting trial.

Kenya and the Seychelles are the only coastal states to have agreed to take in piracy suspects captured off Somalia by international navies.

Foreign naval powers deployed in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean two years ago following a spate of high-profile seajackings by Somali pirates.

The pirates' success rate has dropped but attacks have continued unabated.

According to Ecoterra International, an organisation monitoring maritime activity in the region, the number of hijackings is at one of its highest ever levels, with 23 vessels and more than 400 seafarers held.

© 2010 AFP

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